I am not a glutton for punishment. I often quit things when they don't immediately come easy. I had epidurals with both my children. I always opt for novocaine at the dentist. I quit both piano and tennis when they became too difficult. I would never in a million years consider running a marathon. I don't like hard. I am not one of those people who enjoys suffering.
And yet, I am somehow voluntarily undertaking one of the hardest endeavors in life: parenting. And I'm finding it enjoyable.
The craziest part is that I know how crazy that sounds. I can hear it whenever I talk to my friends without kids. Because they look at you, when you're out to brunch with your toddlerand baby—shoveling food into your mouth because you know the minute your toddler finishes their bacon, you're going to have to chase them around the restaurant while carrying the baby—like you're insane. And I know they're thinking, "Why did they ruin their lives like this? Who would want this?" And yet, in between cries of your baby, you find yourself trying to convince your friends that they, too, should have kids.
But those non-parent friends look at you, rightfully, like you're insane. You're most likely exhausted, your life is not your own, and it's all just. so. hard. And so I've always struggled to come up with a reason that isn't ridiculous when they ask why they should voluntarily have kids. Why they should do something that would make their lives so much harder, when they could remain kid-free and spend their income on trips to Paris instead of Disney, or fancy purses instead of strollers, or meals where they have wine lists and not sippy cups. Ugh, even making this list makes me so jealous.
After thinking about it for a long time (because I have a vested/selfish interest in trying to convince a few family members and very close friends that they should have kids), I've realized that the real reason that parenting is wonderful is because it's hard.
I started to look back at my life and all of the things that I was the proudest of—things that, as a result, I most enjoyed. And all of them were hard.
My award-winning choir from high school performed with several professional symphonies. I made some of my best friendships there. It was crazy hard. We had practice, not only during class, but also from 6 am until school started, almost every day of the year.
My trial teams were hard (yes, in my other life I'm a trial litigator), where often I was up in the war room until 3 am, getting no sleep, cranking out cross exam outlines, only to get up the next morning at 6 am to prep a witness.
Gut renovating our condo we were living in while I was pregnant was hard—making a million choices, having to cook dinner in the microwave every night and step around boxes and tarps. These are weirdly some of my fondest memories. And I would be willing to bet that each of you has a fondness for some of the most difficult things you've undertaken in your life, too.
Certainly, the amnesiac power of time softens all these memories and makes them seem better than they were at the time. But the same is true of parenting. Even in those sleepless nights, you probably found moments of laughter. And through a common goal, you probably made some life long friends.
Parenting is grueling, it is relentless, it is difficult, it is harder than anything I have ever done before. And I know without a doubt, that at the end of my life, I will be able to say with absolute certainty, it is the greatest thing I've ever done.
This post first appeared on Mother.ly